- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 10, 2002

Terrorism on agenda

Indian Home Minister L.K. Advani today begins an intensive round of meetings in Washington with terrorism at the top of his agenda.

Before he left India on Monday, he said one of his priorities was to persuade the United States to declare Pakistan a terrorist state. India accused Pakistan of masterminding the Dec. 13 attack on the Indian Parliament. Pakistan strongly denies the accusation and insists it is trying to stop militant attacks against India.

"I will obviously communicate our position and the detailed evidence we have," Mr. Advani told India's Hindustan Times. "This leaves no doubt that Pakistan is a terrorist state.

"I feel that the U.S. has a clear choice and it cannot afford to have double standards. All terrorists are the same."

Mr. Advani also will "be looking at ways to strengthen cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism and intelligence sharing," Indian Embassy spokesman Navtej Sarna said.

The visit will focus on "counterterrorism, law-and-order and security issues," he added.

In Washington today, Mr. Advani will meet Attorney General John Ashcroft for lunch and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in the afternoon.

Tomorrow, his schedule includes meetings with Vice President Richard B. Cheney and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

He then travels to New York to visit ground zero of the attack on the World Trade Center and to meet with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Gov. George E. Pataki.

Mr. Advani, the second-highest ranking minister in the Indian Cabinet, is accompanied by Home Secretary Kamal Pandey, the senior civil servant in the Home Ministry.

Canada responded

Canadians may grumble about being the junior partner in the U.S.-Canadian relationship.

But Canada's response to the terrorist attacks on the United States demonstrate dramatically that Canadians have a deep affection for their American neighbors, Canadian Ambassador Michael Kergin said yesterday.

"Americans are proud to be Americans. Canadians are proud not to be Americans," Mr. Kergin said, repeating a popular Canadian joke in a meeting with editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

Humor aside, he recalled the "close, friendly, family relationship" between Canadians and Americans displayed during the days after September 11, when tens of thousands of U.S. travelers were stranded in remote parts of Canada after Washington closed U.S. airspace and diverted airliners north of the border.

Within 45 minutes of the suicide terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Canada began receiving 224 planes with more than 33,000 passengers that could not land in the United States.

In the most generous display of hospitality, the 10,000 residents of Gander, Newfoundland, accommodated 12,000 waylaid travelers, mostly Americans, for several days until U.S. airspace reopened.

Later, more than 100,000 residents of Ottawa about half the population of the Canadian capital gathered on Parliament Hill for a memorial service for the victims of the attacks.

"This showed Canadians' sense of kinship with America," Mr. Kergin said.

Since the attacks, the United States and Canada have worked to improve border security without damaging the huge cross-border trade of $1.3 billion a day. About 40 percent of that trade crosses between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

"We have a joint security problem we have to deal with," Mr. Kergin said.

Officials from both countries are developing "smart proposals" that include pre-clearance of cargo from long-trusted U.S. and Canadian companies that allow customs inspections before shipping, he said. That would allow certain traffic to cross the border unimpeded, freeing inspectors to look for suspicious cars and trucks.

Meciar revisited

Mark Sabol of the Slovak-American Society of Washington chided Embassy Row yesterday for crediting Vladimir Meciar with more influence than he earned in Slovakia's 1998 election.

The former prime minister's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia received about 29 percent of the vote, not 43 percent, as reported in a column on Tuesday. The party won 43 seats in the 150-seat parliament.

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